3-Point Stance: Is Brady Back?
Tom Brady (AP Photo/M.Perez)
Tom Brady (AP Photo/M.Perez)
Scout.com Senior NFL Analyst
Posted Aug 27, 2009


Is Tom Brady really back? Is Mark Sanchez ready to lead the Jets offense? Will Edgerrin James emerge as the lead back in Seattle? Scout.com's Ed Thompson hits these NFL topics and more in today's 3-Point Stance NFL feature.

Point 1:  Don't be so quick to believe that Tom Brady is going to tear the league up again this year.

Headlines declared "Brady shreds Eagles" and "A Triumphant Return" after the Patriots quarterback completed 10 out of 15 passes and threw two touchdown passes against Philadelphia in New England's preseason opener.

But he didn't fare nearly as well against the Bengals defense last Thursday night. And little attention was paid to his awkward, sky-high bomb a week earlier during the win over Philadelphia that hung up so long that Eagles cornerback Sheldon Brown looked like a centerfielder waiting for a pop fly to land in his mitts.

Against Cincinnati, Brady completed just 4 of 8 attempts for 57 yards with 32 of those yards coming off a screen pass that he completed to Wes Welker behind the line of scrimmage. Then, with the Patriots facing a 2nd-and-6 at the Bengals 14, Brady failed to connect twice out of the shotgun and the Patriots were forced to settle for a field goal.

On the team's second possession of the night, Brady was sacked and was subsequently unable to move the team far enough to compensate for the loss. New England had to punt after just three plays.

Cincinnati put good pressure on Brady, and he just didn't look as cool and comfortable as he has in past seasons. But in fairness to the talented quarterback, that should be expected from anyone after a year off. So while he may eventually regain his pocket poise and timing, the headlines celebrating his so-called triumphant return are definitely premature.

Brady's next test is at Washington on Friday night.

Point 2:  If you were surprised to hear that Mark Sanchez has been handed the starting quarterback job in New York, I've got two words for you--wake up.


Mark Sanchez is adapting quickly to the NFL.
AP Photo/Bill Kostroun

Much fanfare was given in the media to the announcement that the rookie had earned the starter's job. But while I truly believe that fourth-year quarterback Kellen Clemens is a capable backup quarterback who is deserving of respect, he was no more than a safety net once Rex Ryan drafted Mark Sanchez.

Don't forget, Ryan gave up their first two draft picks plus three players to the Cleveland Browns so that they could move up to the No. 5 spot in April's NFL Draft. That's a pretty strong and definitive statement regarding who he wanted behind center. And if you know anything about Ryan, he likes results now, not later.

"Dreams are coming true now," Sanchez said during a press conference following the announcement. "It's a special opportunity, but with that opportunity comes a ton of responsibility to this team, to the organization, to this community here."

One of the reasons Sanchez has been able to develop and adapt so quickly is that he's got some similarities to his predecessor in New York, Brett Favre. Sanchez has the look of a kid who's running out the back door for some neighborhood football when he heads out onto the football field. And while he knows that the stakes are much higher in the NFL, he's still playing a game and having fun doing it. And that takes a lot of mental and emotional pressure off of a rookie so he can put his physical tools to work to his advantage.

"There's going to be a lot of challenges," Sanchez acknowledged."That's going to be fun, though, Coach Rex and I doing it together for the first time. So it's going to be great."

Point 3: The Seahawks made a terrific move this week, but also missed out on a great opportunity.

I'll put this out there right now. Unless I'm totally misjudging him, the 31 year-old veteran will be more successful in Seattle than he was in Arizona.

Why? 

Well, Edgerrin James left the Colts following the 2005 season and followed the money to Arizona as an unrestricted free agent. His first season out there was brutal as the Cardinals were a team in disarray. Under head coach Denny Green, they stumbled to a 5-11 finish. While he averaged a career-low 3.4 yards per carry that season, James more than carried his share of the load for the club, rushing for 1,159 yards, pulling in 38 passes.


Edgerrin James could emerge as Seattle's featured back.
AP Photo/Matt York

After the Cardinals brought in Ken Whisenhunt as the team's new head coach in 2008, the team's passing attack became more aggressive and effective, James averaged 3.8 yards per carry and rushed for 1,222 yards. Last year, while being limited to 133 carries as Whisenhunt decided it was time to develop younger talent, James averaged 3.9 yards per carry.

Honestly, I'm not sure that James ever really hit his groove in Arizona. It seemed like an odd marriage--outside of the financial part of the deal—that left James out on the perimeter instead of within the team's inner circle like he was in Indianapolis. And when he felt like he was a key player in the Colts organization, James thrived.

The 11th-year veteran is a quiet, yet proud man who had to be stung by the disinterest teams showed in him during the offseason. But now he's now heading to a team that is badly in need of his help. And he's got an opportunity to tell the league that he's deserving of more respect.

I believe he'll not only make that statement, but will eventually emerge as the lead back with Julius Jones filling the role of complimentary back. As I stated back in one of my 7 Points features back in May, Seattle and Cincinnati were the two teams that really needed his talent. Although he averaged 4.4 yards per carry last year, Julius Jones is erratic from week to week. And T.J. Duckett, who the Seahawks finally released, only averaged 2.8 yards per carry last year. It was obvious Seattle had a problem that James could fix.

My only beef with the Seahawks organization is why did they wait so long to make this move? Had they recognized their depth problem at the position earlier, James could have learned the system by now and would have plenty of reps under his belt with his new teammates.

Quick Count:  Minnesota Vikings QB Sage Rosenfels returns to Houston next Monday night for a preseason matchup against the Texans after spending three seasons there in a reserve role ... With RB Marshawn Lynch suspended for the first three games of the regular season, the Bills had a tense moment on Tuesday when Fred Jackson left the field with what many feared was a broken thumb. On Wednesday, Jackson said X-rays were negative, but that his thumb and wrist were sore. He should be back in action well before the Week One opener ... Today's NFL birthdays include Oakland Raiders RB Darren McFadden (22), Washington Redskins RB Ladell Betts (30), Jacksonville Jaguars CB Rashean Mathis (29), former Minnesota Vikings LB Scott Studwell (55), and former Baltimore Colts safety Jerry Logan (68)

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A member of the Pro Football Writers of America, Ed Thompson's player interviews and NFL features are published across the Scout.com network and at FOXSports.com.


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